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Len & Ivor

We all know what it's like to feel lonely, but did you know that around 1 million older people regularly go an entire month without speaking to anyone?

At Age UK one of the ways we try to beat loneliness in later life is through our befriending services. Here, we explain how befriending works, and meet some of the older people who’ve benefitted from befriending, as well as some of the amazing volunteers who make this vital service possible.

The problem of loneliness in later life

Loneliness is a massive issue for people in later life in the UK. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, and 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over say they are always or often feel lonely – that’s just over a million people.

Shockingly, half of all older people consider the television their main form of company.

Joy, 88, from Stockport, found herself on her own after her husband passed away: ‘My husband died and left me on my own. I managed to cope with things and get by at first. But in the last two years it got very lonely and miserable. I saw my daughter once a week, but the rest of the time I was on my own with nobody to talk to. I thought, “This can’t go on with me by myself”.’

- Read what happened next to Joy

Len and Ivor's friendship

Age UK Essex volunteer befriender Ivor visits 92-year-old widower Len. Watch their story below:

Age UK’s befriending services

To tackle the problem of loneliness among older people, Age UK has developed befriending services. The service works by assigning each older person a befriender, who provides friendly conversation and companionship on a regular basis over a long period of time.

Many local Age UKs provide befriending services, some by telephone and some where a volunteer visits the older person at their home. This vital service provides a link to the outside world and often acts as a gateway for other services and valuable support.

Age UK also provides a telephone befriending service called ‘Call in Time.' The relationship is structured so that each befriender makes the call at a regular pre-agreed time. All befrienders are corporate volunteers, who freely give up their time to help lonely older people.

Know someone who could benefit?

If you think you, or someone you know, could benefit from the Call in Time service, or if you wish to know more about how the service works, please call Age UK on 0800 434 6105, email, or write (including your contact details, with no stamp needed) to:

Age UK
A Call in Time
Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square

If you are referring someone other than yourself to the service, please use our referral form. Make sure you have their permission to do so, please provide us with as much relevant information as possible (i.e. main reason for referral, telephone contact details, the person's preferred times for us to get in touch with them, etc.)

If the person lives in an area covered by a pre-existing befriending service, the Call in Time team may, subject to agreement, transfer the referral.

>> Download Call in Time referral form (Word doc, 689KB)

- Find out more about Age UK’s telephone befriending service
- Meet the befrienders
- Read why befriending is so important

Donate to Age UK

If you can't spare the time to become a befriender, why not donate and together we can help end loneliness

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'It's the highlight of my week'

Darranda explains why she loves volunteering as a telephone befriender.

Watch Darranda's story

no one should have no one

Find your local Age UK

To volunteer as a befriender, call 0800 169 6565 or contact your nearest Age UK to find out what befriending services they offer.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081